It would be a lie for me to imply that I'm somehow ready for Memorial Day weekend. It seems just a short while ago that I was preparing for the first weekend in May, not the last.
May started out on a bit of a down note as Sarah's grandmother died after a tough battle with cancer. We got the news on a Monday and by Thursday were on a flight bound for Baltimore. Once in Baltimore, we picked up a rental car and drove on to Chambersburg, PA for the funeral. We got back to Madison on Saturday and found my sister's dog, Olive, waiting at our house. Amy, my sister, had to visit Iceland for a week as part of her job, so we were thrust into the role of dog sitters.
Olive is a handful at times, though mostly because she hasn't quite figured out what bad dogs do and good dogs don't. Our biggest complaint with her is that she is incapable of sleeping past 06:00 in the morning. Some mornings, she's up well before that. However, we all muddled through that together, and when my sister returned on Thursday evening, we sent Olive back to her own home and she was probably glad to go. At her home, Olive is the queen; at our house, she is on the lowest rung of the ladder. She answers to Sarah, myself, and Dalla. Perhaps the only family member below her is Ira, and that's only because he doesn't recognize any sort of family hierarchy at all.
The second weekend in May, Sarah and I met my sister, my parents, some of my high school friends and their families, and some other folks in Minneapolis. Every year we get together with my parents for a Twins game, and this year we decided to broaden the group significantly. We started with a potluck picnic at a Minneapolis park. In the grand Midwestern tradition, there was a mountain of food and nobody went hungry. After the picnic, fourteen of us went to a Twins game at the Metrodome. Unfortunately, the Twins lost that day, so while we all had fun seeing each other again, the game was something of a bummer.
When we visit the Cities for a Twins game, we always like to stay at a hotel downtown to minimize our driving and to grease the skids for a trip to Hell's Kitchen the following morning. This year, we chose to stay at the Radisson Plaza, which is just a half-block off the Nicollet Mall. Our room was clean, comfortable, attractive, and afforably priced. We were pleased...until we got back to the room late on Saturday night. From the room next door, we heard screeching, giggling, and the other noises that girls make when you cram fifty of them together into a tiny hotel room. We thought that perhaps a group of prom goers had rented the room next to ours, but since we weren't real sleepy, it didn't really bother us. Then, about 23:00 or so, the room got quiet, and shortly thereafter, we went to sleep.
About 03:00, the room next to us exploded into screeching, giggling, and those crazy girl noises again. I was fairly groggy (I'd been single-handedly doing my best to ensure that there were no stale kegs of beer at several establishments) so the noise didn't bother me too much (which is a clear indication of how much I'd had to drink; normally I'm an extremely light sleeper). Sarah, however, was bothered by the noise, so she called the front desk and they sent up a security guard. Also, she kicked me out of bed to find the earplugs that always accompany me when I travel. I found the ear plugs, gave her a set, stuck a pair in my ears, and went to sleep. In the morning, we got up relatively early, showered, got dressed, and headed out for another remarkable breakfast at Hells Kitchen. The picture above documents what was waiting for us in the hallway: a trash bin overflowing with bananas, shot glasses, red frat-party beer cups, and hotdogs with string tied to them. Clearly, our neighbors had something to screech about and I'm guessing that it wasn't the Supreme Court's stance on states' rights.
Even though we were tired we headed back to Madison, we still thought the trip to the Twin Cities was a success.
Last week, I was in training class all week learning how to subsume a nearly uncontrollable desire to fall asleep in the face of mind-numbing boredom. Though I failed in my endeavors, the class was ostensibly a course in managing Cisco firewall devices and I grok that so it wasn't a big deal.
Dalla pulled through a tough spell last week. She developed wicked diarrhea and eventually became dehydrated. We had to have fluids administered intravenously at the vet's office and she was placed on a special prescription diet for a few days. Part of that diet was a liberal dispensation of broth into her dish. She lapped that down and was soon back on her feet. She probably still wishes that she was getting broth routinely.
I surreptitiously bought a batch of rhubarb at the Farmer's Market last weekend. When Sarah saw it in my backpack, she said, "Did you buy that so you could scatter it around the yard before you mow?" For those who don't know, I used to always threaten my mother's rhubard with the mower because I didn't much like it. In fact, I have memories of simply mowing it down one year without first getting the OK. At the time, I probably felt like I was showing initiative. Regardless, I decided to give rhubarb another shot since my palate seems to have changed as I've gotten older. It's still not my favorite (fruit? vegetable? alien life form?), but it does make a passable ingredient in an apple-crisp style desert.
Say "So long" to the Maneater. The Brill Luxus reel mower that we bought four or five years is no longer ours. We sold it to another person here in town who has a much smaller yard than ours. It was a decent mower, but on our yard, and with my level of non-compulsive yard maintenance, it just wasn't a good fit for us.
Once I got rid of the reel mower, I had to work on the rotary mower so that I could mow the lawn. That meant a trip to the hardware store for tools that I could use to sharpen the mower blade; some time spent changing the mower oil and cleaning the air filter; and a trip to the gas station for some fresh gas. I made the trip to the gas station on my bike with the gas can in one of my wire panniers. It feels very weird to pull up next to a gas pump on a bicycle and doing so generated no small number of unusual glaces. Once I had the mower gassed and lubriated and the blade sharpened (I may have to take another stab at time; I'm not convinced I did a great job), I was back in the business of doing a job I don't necessary like.
It's time for Brat Fest this weekend. In a radical move, the price of one brat has gone from $1 to $1.50 and a hotdog has gone from $0.50 to $1.00 this year. That's something of a bummer, but I'm sure that we'll enjoy ourselves anyway.